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Peoria family shares their story for National Minority Donor Awareness month

Kim Purdy (left) and Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood speak at an event for National Minority Donor Awareness month.
Collin Schopp
Kim Purdy, left,) and Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood speak Tuesday at an event to promote National Minority Donor Awareness month.

August is National Minority Donor Awareness month, an effort to highlight the need for more diversity among organ donors.

According to the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, six out of every 10 people waiting for an organ donation in the U.S. are members of a minority group, while only three in 10 are registered organ, eye and tissue donors.

While organ donations aren't matched based entirely on race or ethnicity, it is easier to find matching blood types and tissue markers among members of the same group.

Peoria resident Kim Purdy's son Michael is a minority donor. She lost Michael to gun violence in July of 2021.

"I did donate Michael's organs. He saved seven lives," said Purdy at an awareness event Tuesday at the Peoria County Coroner's office. "It's hard, but I'll keep his name alive. Keep them going and thankful for the other lives that he saved. Because he's a legend."

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood thanked Purdy for being willing to advocate for others to donate.

"She's gone through what many families before her have gone through, but the difference with Kim and some of our other families is that she's got hope," said Harwood. "She said it herself, her son's heart is still beating somewhere in the world, making a difference for someone else's life."

Michael's liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and kidneys were donated to recipients all across the country. Purdy said she has a list of their names and ages that she hopes to one day show Michael's 1-year-old son.

You can find information on how to register to be an organ donor in Illinois on the Secretary of State's website.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.